Does Access to Water Matter? A Study on the Nutritional Status of Primary-Aged Children in India

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Abstract: Background Although the determinants of nutritional status, which is critical to children's well-being, have been extensively studied in developing countries, there is very little understanding of the relationship between nutritional status among children and water access. This study attempts to fill this gap in the literature by studying primary-aged children ( aged between 6 and 14) in India. Methods Using individual-level data from the India Human Development Survey, the article employs an ordered response model to analyze the impact of access to water and its implications for children's nutritional status outcomes. Other than access to water, a variety of confounding factors such as sex, age, measure of family income status and composition of food consumption are included as independent variables. Results The results show that access to water decreases primary-aged children's likelihood of being thin and super thin by similar to 1%, while it will increase their chances of having a normal weight by similar to 2% in India. Transferring these estimates into population size, access to water can potentially decrease the number of thin and super thin primary-aged children by 1 841 101, and it can possibly increase the number of normally weighted primary-aged children by 3682203. Conclusions These empirical findings show that improving access to drinking water is critical to advance the nutritional status of children in India.

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